A tiny soundbar that produces a big sound, the LG Éclair QP5 is a novel idea that isn’t quite executed with aplomb. A lack of overall balance means it’s not up there with the best compact soundbars, and a lack of features also means it offers less value than other soundbars
- Elegantly compact
- Impressively big sound
- Expensive Sound
- Lacks overall balance
- Not much in the way of smarts/wireless connectivity
- UKRRP: £699
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:XSupports both immersive audio soundtracks
- HDMI inputCan passthrough 4K and HDR10 content from another source
Each year LG ships out a bucket load of soundbars and out of all the various models, the Éclair QP5 is the most unique.
The Éclair looks like the sweet confection it’s named after, which translates to a compact soundbar with an accompanying subwoofer that brings the bass.
And despite its small size, the LG QP5 squeezes in upfiring speakers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The subwoofer is described as a low vibration unit that minimises reverberations to stop your next-door neighbours from complaining about the noise.
It’s missing several features you’d expect from a soundbar this pricey, but even so it’s a unique proposition. So, is the Éclair a tasty treat or does it leave a bad taste?
- Refreshingly compact design
- Suited to 40-inch TVs and bigger
- Upfiring speakers
LG’s aesthetic for its soundbars over the past few years has hewn to predominantly black, rectangular-shaped units with speaker grilles at either side. The QP5 Éclair is not one of those soundbars.
To be fair to LG, its design approach has evolved with ‘lifestyle’ soundbars including the lovely-looking SP2 and SP7 efforts. The Éclair, though, arguably trumps them all. Elliptical in shape, it measures 296mm wide, 59.9mm tall and 185mm deep. Having space to fit this bar should be no problem.
LG recommends partnering with a 40-inch set upwards, and it comes in black or white (QP5W) to match your interior. On top of the speaker is an acoustic grille to disperse sound from the up-firing drivers, with a woven Jersey fabric wrapping around the midriff, plus a front-facing, three LED display that you can spot from the comfort of the sofa. It’s all smart and tidy.
There are physical buttons and curiously they’re hidden around the rear – not the most helpful since you’ll have to turn the unit around. Those buttons are power, volume, source input and Bluetooth pairing, all of which feature on the remote.
The subwoofer is much bigger and matches the woven fabric and rounded aesthetic of the main unit. Underneath is a button to initiate pairing between it and the main bar, and in a considered touch, there are clips for the power cables, so they don’t struggle beneath its substantial weight (7.7kg).
The remote sees further improvements from the 2020 edition (which itself was an improvement). Not too light or too heavy, it feels good to hold and there are even fewer buttons to get confused by, with icons representing the various sound modes. Its shape has more in common with LG’s Magic Remote for its TVs, the only difference is the Éclair’s remote doesn’t have a settings button.
- No networking features
- Supports Sound Bar app for added tweaking
- No support for rear speaker package
Given the Éclair costs £700, it’s a surprise there are no smarts or network capabilities: no Google Assistant or Alexa, no Spotify Connect, no AirPlay 2 and no Chromecast.
It also doesn’t support the SPK8-S rear package sold separately, so you can’t add rear channels. The TV Sound Share mode is also not available, and neither is the AI Room Calibration. That last feature is only possible with a 2021 LG TV, so not a big miss.
You do get Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity with SBC and AAC playback. Connections are found below the rear buttons with a HDMI out (ARC/eARC) and, surprisingly, a HDMI input, plus USB and digital optical. The HDMI input supports 4K HDR10 passthrough.
LG Éclair QP5 is compatible with LG’s Sound Bar app, offering another way of configuring the bar from toggling Night Mode to switching between Sound Effect modes (AI Sound, Standard, Game & Cinema): adjusting speaker levels, setting values for Bass and Treble and plenty of other settings. If you’re playing Dolby Atmos content, however, those values are set in stone.
Dolby Atmos is supported via TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus bitstreams. Dolby’s immersive rival in DTS:X is included, as are various other DTS audio formats (such as DTS-HD High Resolution). Whatever audio format your 4K physical discs or streaming library supports, the QP5 Éclair can wrangle a tune from it. Hi-Res Audio, though, is off the table.
- Unrefined treble performance
- Big, tall, and wide sound for its size
- Lacks overall balance
What impresses about the Éclair is just how big its sound is. Partnered with a 65-inch TV and the QP5’s sound encompasses the width of the screen, dialogue placed where characters are talking, effects positioned where they ought to be. For its diminutive size, it produces an unexpected scale and power.
And despite its small enclosure, it’s a dab hand at producing height and spatial effects. Blade Runner 2049 is full of such effects and the moment where K’s spinner lands at Sapper Morton’s farm is tangibly placed up in the heights. Another moment where K is walking back to his apartment in the snowy streets and the announcements for the off-world colonies are convincingly sprayed out wide to create a taller, wider soundscape.
There are some issues though. The opening moments of 2049 see the high frequency sounds ring in an unrefined manner. Dialogue reproduction is not the clearest either, Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton comes across as both mumbly and too bassy. In some scenes from 2049 and Sicario (both Atmos), there’s an echoey tone to dialogue I’ve not heard from other soundbars. It doesn’t manifest across all the Atmos tracks I watch, but it’s noticeable when it does.
Busy action scenes cause a few issues as well. The scene in Terminator: Dark Fate where first comes across the Rev-9 is a good example. The LG strains to depict the various sledgehammer hits and punches with the necessary weigh, coming across as boxed in. Its tendency to pitch sounds too sharp is evident, and dialogue is not always well-protected among the chaos.
But the bass is surprisingly weighty and impactful. There’s not as much rumble emanating from the 2-inch woofer driver as it is a low vibration unit, but the room still shakes when the FBI van slams into cartel safe house in Sicario, and even more so when an explosion goes off later in the scene.
Bump the volume up when watching daytime TV and the LG avoids distortion and retains a good amount of detail and clarity with dialogue. Watching Who Do You Think Are (starring Eastender’s Danny Dyer) and there’s a slight trace of sibilance but nothing too distracting.
Flicking through the sound modes and AI Sound Pro’s presence is an improvement over other LG soundbars I’ve tested. It focuses mainly on the voice and sounds sharp but avoids sibilance, although with this mode there are moments where dialogue doesn’t lift onto the screen. Standard mode is smoother by comparison and manages dialogue more ably.
Comparing the AI, Standard and Cinema mode with Man of Steel’s DTS-HD MA soundtrack and I prefer the detail of the AI mode, which is not something I thought would happen. Its focus on voices brings the dialogue out more, it sounds cleaner and separates the various special effects better than Standard. Cinema sounds louder, bigger, more dramatic, and dynamically persuasive, but it’s missing some detail. It speaks to a lack of balance in the QP5’s sound that’s a tad frustrating.
Musically it’s an enjoyable little performer. Billy Joel’s It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me is given a lively, assertive performance with a good level of clarity, detail, and a punchy bassline, as well as a sense of space so notes aren’t lost in the mix. Surprisingly there’s no Music mode, with AI Sound Pro and Standard your best bets.
Should you buy it?
You’re short on space An immersive bar that doesn’t take up much space at all, the Éclair is suited to smaller rooms and apartments with its sound that’s surprisingly big for its size
You’re in need of more performance for the money The QP5 is short of the features expected and lacks overall sonic balance.
The Éclair QP5 is a smart idea but lacks in the refinement to be a great one. There’s a lack of balance about the QP5’s performance that makes it hit and miss.
The the lack of smarts and wireless options makes it not the most value-led proposition either though it has come down in price since it went sale. When on song the Éclair is likable little performer but its overall execution leaves something to be desired.
How we test
We test every soundbar we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested with real world use and different TVs
Tested for two weeks
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No, you can’t add any further speakers to this soundbar
No. There’s networking and voice assistant support (but there is support for an app).